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The NMSL OCLC Digital Archive project, part 1

Where does time go? My guest-blogging month is half over and it’s been two weeks since my first posting. Staff transition issues here at NMSL have kept us all busy (we will have some interesting positions opening up soon, if anyone is interested), as well as day-to-day work and well, just life. But there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on that I will try to do better at posting the rest of the month.

Today, I’m going to start talking about NMSL’s Digital Archive Project. It’s been going on a while now and is fairly extensive, so I’m going to break the topic up into three or four segments over the next few days. I don’t want to get bogged down in the step-by-step details of the process for this blog (if anyone is really interested in that, let me know), but you can get some details on the OCLC website.

Having government publications and other information made available through the Internet is a great innovation. But we all know that one drawback is the problem of preservation of these resources. Websites come and go, are purposely taken down or just die for one reason or another. Even on websites that prevail over a period of time, specific pages may be dropped, either because an agency no longer wants the information to be freely available, or simply because it’s old and is replaced by newer information.

About four years ago, the New Mexico State Library (NMSL)had already been looking at this problem and trying to find solutions, particularly in light of its responsibilities in running the New Mexico state publications depository program. Marcia Smith, our state documents coordinator, was especially concerned about how to ensure the continuation and relevance of the state depository program into the electronic age. New Mexico state agencies had been publishing information on their websites for some time, but they were starting to publish born-digital, web-only versions of their annual reports and other publications. The prospect of developing an archiving system from scratch was too daunting and expensive for the staff and resources the library had. With some grant funding for start-up subscription costs and some reallocation of staff time to the project, NMSL purchased the OCLC Digital Archive product and began archiving publications in March of 2003.

As of this posting, NMSL has created 2642 DA records that link to harvested digital content. Since each issue of a serial generates a separate record, that number represents a much smaller number of distinct titles. There are around 300 of the latter and you can see them by going to NMSL’s SALSA catalog keyword search menu and searching “oclc digital archive.”

Although the project was originally conceived as a way to preserve information resources from New Mexico state government, we have from the beginning experimented with capturing U.S. federal material. We also wanted to publicize the project and see how we might go about collaborating with our state depository partners and others to extend the scope of our efforts to local government information and possibly even resources from NGOs. We have held several information and training sessions for interested libraries within New Mexico and a number of presentations at national conferences. In my next posting, I will talk about some of the specific sites and electronic publications we have captured.

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